We know how meaningful our pets can be. From building extremely unbreakable bonds to acknowledging the love we inevitably build together. But did you know there is more to our furry pets than just love and ownership, which can actually provide mental health support? Animals can contribute to joy and companionship. Animals can also give emotional support to people with mental health concerns. These animal companions are known as emotional support animals (ESAs), and they have been growing in popularity in recent years. Here are some facts about ESAs and how they can contribute to your life.
- People with mental disabilities are eligible for emotional support animals.
- Usually dogs, ESAs provide comfort and companionship. However, animals like cats, snakes, and ducks have been used as ESAs.
- To qualify your pet as an ESA, the option must be recommended by a clinical therapist or mental health professionals like clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. ESAs could help people with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other emotional and psychiatric disabilities.
- ESAs are helpful for people suffering from different mental illnesses by providing companionship and increasing oxytocin levels in owners and dogs, decreasing cortisol levels in owners. This is the fuzzy feeling you might get when you pet or cuddle your dog after a long stressful day!
- There’s a big difference between emotional support animals and service dogs. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help their owners’ disabilities whereas emotional support animals provide comfort on emotional levels.
- In the USA there are laws that protect ESA owners. These are the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Fair Housing Act. Both of these laws help in providing reasonable accommodations for ESA owners.
- Although flying with your ESA is definitely something that has become very normal, make sure you go over airlines’ specific rules on ESAs.
- There are states that welcome ESAs on workspaces under the protection of ADA.